Question:

What advice would you give a Christian couple dealing with a long distance relationship for a while? We've had several arguments over the phone, and it seems like things aren't going well and might not get better. I feel like there's something going wrong that can be helped with scriptural advice, but I have no idea how to start. I think if we both humble ourselves to whatever principles Scripture might have for such a situation we would be able to fulfill the good plans we've made for a future together. We're both New Testament Christians. We've been together for two years. We're a year a part in age. I'm in college two hours away, while she is in high school in our hometown area.


Answer:

I've known several couples who successfully had a long distance relationship before they got married, including one of my sons. Distance is easy to blame for a relationship not going well, but it is rarely the real cause.

If I had to guess, the biggest problem at the moment is the difference in your experiences. You are in college and she is still in high school. The environments are different. The way people look at life are different. And the maturity level of fellow students are vastly different. I suspect that it is the differences in what is happening in your lives that is causing you two to have less common ground than you have had in the past. That difference is putting a strain on your relationship.

A good relationship doesn't mean the couple has no arguments. When you put two people together with different backgrounds, there are bound to be clashes. What makes a good relationship is how the couple disagrees and how they resolve the difference.

It is here that I get stuck. I don't know enough about your particular situation to say which principles of God you need to learn. Without narrowing the discussion, I probably could end up writing a small book on the possibilities. If you would like to tell me more about the nature of the arguments and why you feel you are drifting apart, I will be better able to give you a detailed answer.

"What makes a good relationship is how the couple disagrees and how they resolve the difference."

One thing we'd both write is we fail so miserably here. What's the proper way for followers of Christ in a relationship to disagree and resolve differences? I think this may be our primary if not only issue.

Your help is so much appreciated Brother Hamilton, prayers to the congregation at La Vista too!

If I had to pick the biggest cause of disagreement between couples, it is due to the assumptions people make about the other person. I remember talking to one man who was having a conflict with his wife. As he told me about the nature of the disagreement, I asked him if he discussed a point with his wife. He then proceeded to tell me in detail everything she would say counter to the point. He had the entire argument mapped out in his head, what he would say, what she would say, and how it would end. Just one small matter was missing -- he never talked to her about it. He was so certain that he knew what she would say that he never bothered talking to her. When I finally convinced him to ask anyway, he was shocked to find out that he was completely wrong.

More arguments are over what people assume that what someone actually did or said. Isaiah talks about those "Who cause a person to be indicted by a word" (Isaiah 29:21 NASB). Just a word or two and a person decides they know exactly what a person is guilty of doing. Instead, if we must make an assumption, we ought to be assuming the best of another person. "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:31-32).

So consider the last few arguments you've had. Are they based on actual facts, or are you assuming the other person's motives and thoughts without the other person telling you.